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Cooking with Apache, Part 2
Pages: 1, 2

Recipe 8.2: Enabling CGI Scripts in Non-ScriptAliased Directories


You want to put a CGI program in a directory that contains non-CGI documents.


Use AddHandler to map the CGI handler to the particular files that you want to be executed:

<Directory "/foo">
    Options +ExecCGI
    AddHandler cgi-script .cgi .py .pl


Enabling CGI execution via the ScriptAlias directive is preferred, for a number of reasons, over permitting CGI execution in arbitrary document directories. The primary reason is security auditing. It is much easier to audit your CGI programs if you know where they are, and storing them all in a single directory ensures that.

However, there are cases where it is desirable to have this functionality. For example, you may want to keep several files together in one directory — some of them static documents, and some of them scripts — because they are part of a single application.

Using the AddHandler directive maps certain file extensions to the cgi-script handler so they can be executed as CGI programs. In the case of the aforementioned example, programs with a .cgi, .py, or .pl file extension will be treated as CGI programs, while all other documents in the directory will be served up with their usual MIME type.

Note that the +ExecCGI argument is provided to the Options directive, rather than the ExecCGI argument — that is, with the + sign rather than without. Using the + sign adds this option to any others already in place, whereas using the option without the + sign will replace the existing list of options. You should use the argument without the + sign if you intend to have only CGI programs in the directory, and with the + sign if you intend to also serve non-CGI documents out of the same directory.

See Also

  • Recipe 8.1


Recipe 9.5: Redirecting Invalid URLs to Some Other Page


You want all "not found" pages to go to some other page instead, such as the front page of the site, so that there is no loss of continuity on bad URLs.


Use the ErrorDocument to catch 404 (Not Found) errors:

ErrorDocument 404 /index.html
DirectoryIndex index.html /path/to/notfound.html


The recipe given here will cause all 404 errors — every time someone requests an invalid URL — to return the URL /index.html, providing the user with the front page of your web site, so that even invalid URLs still get valid content. Presumably, users accessing an invalid URL on your web site will get a page that helps them find the information that they were looking for.

On the other hand, this behavior may confuse the user who believes she knows exactly where the URL should take her. Make sure that the page that you provide as the global error document does in fact help people find things on your site, and does not merely confuse or disorient them. You may, as shown in the example, return them to the front page of the site. From there they should be able to find what they were looking for.

When users get good content from bad URLs, they will never fix their bookmarks and will continue to use a bogus URL long after it has become invalid. You will continue to get 404 errors in your log file for these URLs, and the user will never be aware that they are using an invalid URL. If, on the other hand, you actually return an error document, they will immediately be aware that the URL they are using is invalid and will update their bookmarks to the new URL when they find it.

Note that, even though a valid document is being returned, a status code of 404 is still returned to the client. This means that if you are using some variety of tool to validate the links on your web site, you will still get good results, if the tool is checking the status code, rather than looking for error messages in the content.

See Also

Check back here next month when we run the final batch of samples from the book. Recipes will cover how to require logins for proxied content; how to optimizing symbolic links; and how to solve the "Trailing Slash" problem.

Rich Bowen is a member of the Apache Software Foundation, working primarily on the documentation for the Apache Web Server. DrBacchus, Rich's handle on IRC, can be found on the web at

Ken Coar is a member of the Apache Software Foundation, the body that oversees Apache development.

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